Last year I published a post about the places in Europe I’d like to visit again. Having visited Malta a few times as a child, I’ve wanted to return to the little island for a while now so I can learn to appreciate it’s glory as an adult. My grandparents have had a time-share in Malta for about 20 years, so every September the opportunity to spend a week or so with them there arises. I’ve done a lot of travelling this past year but unfortunately none of my travels have taken me to the Mediterranean, or anywhere I can really relax for that matter! Malta seemed like the perfect place to get some sunshine and unwind before the holiday season kicked off…
Where To Stay
St Julians is the main tourist area of Malta and is just 15 minutes outside of Valletta (the capital city). If you’re looking for somewhere good to stay, you’re bound to find it here. We stay in the St Julians Radissons Blu Hotel which is located in the lively town of Paceville. Paceville is a fun area that’s filled with bars, restaurants and shops, perfect for all the family. Five minutes around the corner is where you’ll find the cute Spinola bay. Here is where you’ll find the best restaurants in St Julians, and it’s extremely picturesque.
Where To Eat
When looking for places to eat in Malta, a lot of lists online are filled with restaurants in Valletta. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but in this guide we’re going to stick to restaurants in St Julians- there’s so many places you have to eat here.
As we walked past this place on the first day I was instantly determined to get a drink there during the holiday. White is a tiny little wine bar on the corner of Paceville’s main road which looks so authentic with it’s giant barrel tables and funky tiles that it makes an amazing people watching location. The wine selection here is pretty great and not at all expensive and they also do Charcuterie platters which looked super yummy.
The Blue Elephant is a Thai restaurant located at the bottom of the Hilton Hotel in the Portomaso Marina. Sounds pricey, but in actual fact, it’s nothing out of the ordinary, it’s actually pretty reasonable for a Hilton restaurant. Everything about this place is amazing so that’s probably why it’s named as one of the best restaurants on the island all the time. The decor and food are out of the world so if you love Thai food, don’t even think about going anywhere else.
Sharma Ethnic Cuisines
It’s a known fact I’m a sucker for Arabian food, so if you’re like me and can’t get enough of a good sheesh kebab (the non takeaway type), you need to come here. Set a few doors down from the Blue Elephant along the marina front with their €4 cocktails and super cheap wine list you’ll end up drinking a lot more than you planned!
Perched on the edge of the water in Spinola Bay, Cuba is a great brunch spot in St Julians. They do the most amazing truffle poached eggs, and at less than €20 for two people I could have eaten here every morning.
Just along from Cuba in Spinola Bay is an Italian restaurant called Raffael. This place is a pretty cool dinner spot on the terrace overlooking the bay because at night it’s all lit up by fairy lights so looks really pretty. They also do some really good ‘Maltese special’ pasta’s which you should definitely try!
If you walk along to the next bay after Spinola, (yes, there’s lots of bays in St Julians), you’ll come across a place called U Bistrot which looks like it should belong in Shoreditch. Everything here is completely fresh and packed with natural goodness so if you’re in desperate need of some detoxing whilst you’re away, this is the perfect brunch spot. Make sure you try their smoothies, they’re so good!
Baracuda and Piccolo Padre
As you walk to the end of the road past the church in Balluta Bay you’ll come across the most amazing building perched on the edge of the rocks. Here you’ll find the famous fish restaurant Barracuda and the most adorable Italian called Piccolo Padre. Both situated inside the 18th century building, you can eat out on the terraces right above the water. They’re home to some of the best fish dishes on the island.
Moving away from St Julians a little, I had to give this place in Valletta a little mention. Cafe Cordina is one of the oldest cafes on the island and has the the most amazing decor inside. It’s known for its traditional Maltese pastries and sweet treats making it a great place for a spot of afternoon tea if you want to hide from the sun or an hour or two.
Things To Do and See
If you’re looking for a beach holiday, Malta probably isn’t the place to go, unless you head north of the island towards Golden Bay. It does however have some of the best turquoise waters in the Mediterranean. Well known for it’s Blue Lagoon and Blue Grotto, most bays and even Valletta harbor has crystal clear waters.
The Blue Lagoon is one of Malta’s main attractions. We didn’t go this year because we left it a little too late to sort a boat trip out but it’s one of the islands most recommended places to visit.
It can be easy to get confused between the blue lagoon and the blue grotto, after all, they’re both pretty blue and spectacular. The Blue Grotto is a collection of caves along the west coast of the island you can only access by boat. For just €8 each you can jump on a little boat and go for a 20 minute tour of the caves which are home to some of the bluest coral in the Mediterranean sea.
Staying on the subject of blue water, Marsaxlokk is a must visit it you want to get that perfect blue water and traditional Maltese boat photo. This little fishing town has the biggest collection of traditional Maltese boats on the island. Lined with cute cafes serving freshly caught fish you have to at least stay for a coffee here.
I never realised how many movies were filmed on Malta until I arrived. And I never realised one of its the most well known movies filmed there was the 1980 Popeye Movie. Nestled out on the rocks of the west coast is the little colourful village that was built for the film which is now a top tourist attraction. Although it may need a fresh lick of paint, it still makes a gorgeous photo alongside the blue waters of the cove.
As mentioned previously Valletta is the capital city of Malta and is home to one of the Mediterraneans biggest cruise ship terminals. There’s so much to see in this city because it’s so rich in history but just try and avoid it on a day where there’s four cruise ships in at one time- it gets busy quick! I could spend hours wandering the streets of Valletta, every building is so gorgeous and the view across to the 3 cities is incredible.
Malta National Aquarium
The weather in Malta can sometimes be a little miserable, especially towards the end of September, so if you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day, or somewhere to hide from the sunshine you should definitely check out the Malta National Aquarium. Opened in 2013, it’s collection of fish are really good (this is coming from Andy the marine expert), and the overall experience is a lot better than you’d think an aquarium on a tiny island like Malta would be.